By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
As the world commemorates International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, UN Migration Agency Director General, William Lacy Swing, today implores governments worldwide that equality and freedom from discrimination are fundamental human rights.
He said these rights belong to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or because they are intersex.
While some countries are adopting policies for LGBTI rights others are struggling to accommodate, what they view as ‘Taboo’ to their cultures and traditions.
Like in most African countries, LGBTI is illegal and members of this community are stigmatised in society and frowned upon by their families.
According to Amnesty International, ‘it’s already illegal to be gay in Uganda. If you’re found to have had a same-sex relationship, you can expect to spend seven years in prison. But Uganda’s anti-gay laws have become even harsher.
In December 2013, the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill was passed by Uganda’s Parliament. It has lengthened sentences for consensual homosexual sex, and extended punishments to those ‘promoting’ homosexuality.
UN Migration Agency Director General said every person experiences migration differently. Gender identity and sexual orientation can have an impact on a migrant’s journey, but often in a negative and even dangerous way.
“In 2017, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals still face an alarming number of human rights abuses, including exclusion, discrimination, harassment, public outing, prosecution, corrective rape, damaging medical treatments, torture and murder.
“Seventy-five States still have laws criminalizing same sex activities, with punishments as extreme as death. In these communities, discrimination is often deeply entrenched. This can be a factor in why someone migrates or becomes displaced and it can pose serious risks while a person is in transit or once arrived at their destination,” he said.
He said the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, acts as a reminder of the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people around the world.
“The UN Migration Agency (IOM) reaffirms its commitment to LGBTI migrants and staff members. Together, we strive to be an equal and inclusive organization and workplace for all,” he noted.